Contextual theories of political behaviour assert that the contexts in which people live influence their political beliefs and vote choices. Most studies of political assimilation, however, rely on cross-sectional data and fail to distinguish contextual influence from self-selection of individuals into areas. This paper advances understanding of this longstanding controversy by tracking thousands of individuals over an 18-year period in England. We observe individual-level left-right position and party identification before and after residential moves across areas with different political orientations. We find evidence of both non-random selection into areas and assimilation of new entrants to the majority political orientation. However, these effects are contingent on the type of area an individual moves to and, moreover, contextual effects are weak and dominated by the larger effect of self-selection into areas.